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LAUSD BOARD QUESTIONS CHARTER SCHOOL REQUEST.

Byline: Jennifer Radcliffe Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Unified School District board on Tuesday raised serious concerns over plans to create a new charter school in Canoga Park, questioning its financial plans and academic focus.

The school, which backers hope to open in September with 285 elementary school students and eventually expand to 915 K-12 students, would focus on teaching children entrepreneurial skills and values.

The school board will vote on the application by Ivy Academia, which will be the name of the school if it is approved. Backers of the plan currently operate Academy Just For Kids, a preschool and summer camp in Woodland Hills.

Charter schools are publicly funded and operate independently of school districts with the promise they will raise student achievement. They normally pick a special subject, like math or science, which all students focus on.

Board trustees questioned the entrepreneurial focus sought by Ivy Academia.

``I just want to make sure we're not out there on a tangent,'' said school board member Mike Lansing. Board member David Tokofsky quipped: ``What should I be doing with my kindergartner to instill aggressive capitalistic behavior?''

School board member Julie Korenstein, the most vocal critic of charter schools, said she worries about the loose oversight of charters. She said she needed more details about Ivy Academia's finances, facilities and curriculum.

But backers of the proposed Canoga Park school say they are confident their charter will be approved when the board votes in two weeks.

``It's just a matter of politics more than anything,'' said Eugene Selivanov, who would serve as an executive director for the school. ``I guess I can put myself in their shoes. They have the oversight.''

The LAUSD has nearly 50 charter schools, but the Canoga Park campus is the first one that's been up for consideration since October 2003. Fifteen to 20 more applications are expected to follow in the next few months.

The current school board, in office since July, has approved three charter schools, officials said.

Jennifer Radcliffe, (818) 713-3722

jennifer.radcliffe(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 28, 2004
Words:342
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